2021: Not As Advertised

It had such promise, you know?

COVID-19 vaccines were the great dream of 2021. I received my two doses in March and April, and the booster (after some delay due to supply concerns in Hawai’i and my confusion about eligibility) in December. Like so many, I believed that the vaccines would be rapidly sought by an eager public and that viral spread would slow and stop.

Well. That didn’t go as planned.

Like so many others, I watched with horror as furious supporters of electorally defeated Donald Trump assaulted police officers and broke windows to gain the Capitol building. It was a Wednesday, and I was just back from some time off (if not away). As I did on most of 2021’s Wednesdays, I sat down to sing one song on camera, streamed live to YouTube. It was the theme song of 2020, and also of 2021: “When Will We Find Healing?”

That night, we shared a Prayer Time for our Nation.

Over the course of the year, I composed twelve new songs (two of them are featured in the 2021: A Year video at the top of the page). I sang twenty one-hour Community Concerts in addition to all those Wednesday songs. I recorded What I’m Thinking videos. I wrote #LectionPrayers for this blog. I led worship online for Church of the Holy Cross. In June one of my poems was published in the collection Pitching Our Tents.

I spent far more time on camera than I’d ever believed credible – or desirable, for that matter.

Enjoying the company of dear friends in May.

The vaccine’s timing made a trip east in May an acceptable risk, and so I journeyed east to celebrate Rebekah Anderson’s graduation from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, receiving her Master of Divinity. I spent some time in Connecticut as well to visit my brother, stepmother, and several friends – but I didn’t get to see Brendan. He was still working on his master’s program in Bangor, Wales. I’m still really sorry that this pandemic made it unwise to cross two oceans and visit him there.

In April I represented Interfaith Communities in Action at the groundbreaking for HOPE Services Hawai’i’s Sacred Heart Village. Having been elected Chair of the Hawai’i Conference Council last year, in June I presided over the online 199th ‘Aha Pae’aina. In July I served as a delegate to the UCC’s General Synod, also online (more time on camera).

Summer brought reduced illness rates across Hawai’i and across the nation, and so I got to receive visiting friends once again. Polly and Bruce introduced me to a local cacao grower and chocolate maker. With Liz and Beth I ventured out to Kilauea again, and when David and his family visited in November we got a view down into the lava lake at the caldera summit. In June Church of the Holy Cross considered gathering the congregation for worship again – and then Delta arrived.

In just a couple of weeks we went from fairly low COVID-19 diagnoses to the highest we had ever seen. The highest we’ve ever seen – except for Omicron’s arrival in December, when we have been planning for worship gatherings once again.

No, the year has not gone as I had dreamed.

In October, as the Delta wave subsided, I headed east once more to celebrate the wedding of Ian and Sarah, joining Paul Bryant-Smith once more so that Boys in Hats could sing for one of their long-suffering road crew. The bride and groom had already married legally, but seized this occasion to gather friends (outside) and celebrate (outside) with all the joy we could muster.

We mustered a lot of joy.

I have to take off my hat to the TWA Hotel in New York. It’s the only hotel on the JFK airport grounds, and it was so relaxing to spend just a night there. The decor is deliberately anachronistic, recalling Trans World Airlines heyday in the late 1950s. The telephone in the room had a rotary dial.

I called the front desk to inquire about checkout procedures just so I could use it.

Back in Hilo, I finally resumed morning walks in December, at least when it wasn’t raining (and it rained a lot in December). I’d hoped to visit the Kilauea summit at sunrise, but rain has delayed that as well so photos and video of the lava lake in the dark will have to wait until… 2022.

I hope you enjoy the photos and the songs. Love to you all!

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